SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES

This could very well go into the Simplicity Files, could not be any easier to prepare. They are scrumptious, it is amazing how a few hours in a low oven can concentrate flavors, and with this method, the texture is not harsh like in so many examples of bottled sun-dried tomatoes.

First you need to start with the most gorgeous Roma tomatoes you can find…

Then, slice them in half, and remove the seeds. You don’t want them in there, it will make the tomatoes very watery and it will take a lot longer to dry. To help speed things up – even though this is a slow recipe by definition – you can let the tomatoes rest over a double layer of paper towels, cut side down for an hour or so. It is not mandatory, you can definitely omit this step.

Now, place them in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Lay them on a roasting pan covered with parchment paper and stick them in a 200 F oven. Some recipes call for a drizzle of balsamic, but I prefer to leave that out, the flavor of the tomato comes through with no distractions.

Walk away for a few hours. After 3 hours you can start checking back to see when they reach the consistency you like. Mine actually took 5 hours to get there, but it’s a very nice culinary project to tackle on a Sunday.

They are ready when they are ready…

 

You can nibble on them, but I advise against it. If you start, you might find yourself staring at an empty bowl. Much better to put them to use in all sorts of recipes.

For instance….

A departure on Caprese salad, in which Phil paired them with mozzarella cheese, olives, and a basil dressing….

Remember our Brunch Burger?  There they are, a few slices of slow-roasted tomatoes underneath the turkey patty.

and they pair well with avocados!  Just lay half a tomato inside it, and a squeeze of lemon juice…. Simple, and so delicious!

Another tasty idea: make tomato rice… Just saute a couple of slow-roasted tomatoes until they threaten to melt in the olive oil, add rice, cook a little longer, add the water and in less than 20 minutes you have a very flavorful side dish. We still have amazing tomatoes for sale at the grocery store, so I already made two huge batches, and see a third one in the near future.

ONE YEAR AGO: Spicy Cotija and Black Olive Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

FOUR YEARS AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

FIVE YEARS AGO: October 16: World Bread Day

SIX YEARS AGO: The US Listeria Outbreak 2011

SEVEN YEARS AGO: 36 Hour Sourdough Baguettes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: October 16 is World Bread Day

 

 

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SALZBURG SOURDOUGH

So many months without baking a single sourdough bread! The problem is we don’t eat a lot of bread. One bake lasts us for a long time, as after enjoying a couple of slices, the rest goes straight to the freezer. But I am still quite passionate about bread baking, and have a list of recipes I intend to try. They just sit and wait, poor things. Like this one, from Discovering Sourdough Part II, by Teresa Greenway. In theory, you need a specific sourdough strain from Austria, but I used my good American sourdough, born 9 years ago in Oklahoma, and headed to his teenage years in Kansas. I am sure Teresa will forgive me. But, did you know you can actually buy many sourdough starters from all over the world? Pretty amazing. Take a look at this site. Of course, over a long period of time a sourdough might change and incorporate yeast and bacteria from the new environment, but it’s fun to start from a pure culture born in some exotic, distant place. In the site, they actually dispute the claim that cultures change, but until I see solid scientific evidence it’s all a bit in the air (pun intended).

 

SALZBURG SOURDOUGH
(printed with permission from Teresa Greenway)
(I modified slightly to make a single loaf and use my preferred method of baking)

1 cup Austrian sourdough starter at 166% hydration  (9 oz)
3/4 cups water  (6 oz)
3 oz  evaporated milk
0.6 oz  rye flour
14 oz bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients, except salt, just until incorporated and then allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes (autolysis).

After autolysis, add salt and mix dough on low-speed for about 2 minutes. Then let the dough bulk ferment (first rise) for 6 hours or until doubled. Fold it once each hour during the six-hour bulk fermentation. After bulk fermentation, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead enough to gather into a ball.  Shape it into the general shape you wish and then allow the dough to rest for 5 – 10 minutes (bench rest). After benching shape loaves into their final shapes and put them into the proofing baskets, pans, or couche. Cover the dough with plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, allow the dough to final proof for 2 – 3 hours (whenever the dough looks about 1 ½ times its size and is spongy) then turn dough out on peel and slash, cover with roasting lid moistened with water, and bake in a 425F degree oven for 30 minutes. Alternatively, use your favorite method to generate initial steam. After 30 minutes, remove roasting lid, turn down the oven to 400F degrees and continue baking for about 10-15 more minutes, turning halfway for even browning. Bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200-205F.

Take out loaf and cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: Inspired by my friend Elaine,  I decided to be a bit more daring and creative with the slashing. Elaine always comes up with amazing patterns on her bread. So I took a deep breath and went at it with a razor blade. I love the way the bread turned out, and intend to keep practicing, as the slashes on top were not exactly the way I wanted.

My sourdough ended up quite assertive this time – it was hibernating in the fridge for a very long time, so I refreshed it and fed it daily for a full week before making the bread. Not sure if that affected the level of acidity, but it was really good. Teresa’s recipes all call for 166% hydration, which is easily translated into equal volumes of flour and water. It is easy because you won’t even need a scale to keep the starter going, simply pick your desired volume, and mix half and half.  I refreshed it using 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. It ends up close enough to 166% hydration. For the final starter, I just made a bit more than needed for the bread, so I could keep it for the next baking adventure.

And once again, we have great bread stored in our freezer, although some members of our home hoped that one or two slices would fall to the floor instead… Or at least a few crumbs…

Teresa, thanks for giving me permission to publish this great recipe!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: If I had One Hour

TWO YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

FOUR YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

FIVE YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

SIX YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

EIGHT YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

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PARSNIP, COCONUT & LEMONGRASS SOUP

Inspired by a recipe from Mary Berry, this soup is simple and flavorful. I don’t think parsnips receive the attention and praise they deserve. There’s something about their slight sharpness that can be quite pleasing. Maybe for some it might be an acquired taste… Come to think of it, when I was a teenager, I would march out of the house if my poor Mom would dare serving parsnips in any type of preparation. I was difficult. I got better… At least in some aspects…

Back to soup. Make it. If you are not lucky enough to have friends who give you a gorgeous lemongrass plant, search for those cute little plastic tubes at the grocery store.  They are actually not that bad if you cannot have the real thing. I confess to always having the ginger kind in my fridge. And once our lemongrass goes into hibernation, that version will be joining us too.

PARSNIP, COCONUT AND LEMONGRASS SOUP
(inspired by Mary Berry Everyday)

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3/4 pound parsnips (about 8 medium ones), peeled, cut in chunks
1 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock  (or water)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed to release flavor
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt and black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallot and parsnips, and saute for a few minutes, until they start to get a golden color at the edges.  Add the ginger, red curry paste and honey and saute for 30 seconds, then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and lemon grass.

Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through, very tender. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then remove the lemon grass and discard.

Process the soup in a blender or food processor. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and black sesame seeds, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Loved this soup. Lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger, red curry paste, they do make a fantastic fantasy of flavors in your mouth, but oddly enough, you can still detect a bright and clear taste of parsnip. I had it for lunch several times in that particular week. Phil tried some and enjoyed it, but he prefers to have his smoothie – Wasa cracker/nuts/jam combination so I was left alone to savor this comforting soup day in, day out.  It gets a bit thicker each day, but adding a bit of water brings it back to a perfect consistency. I also like to squirt a little lemon juice right on the bowl.  Have I ever told you that we never, absolutely never run out of lemons in the fridge?  I get nervous if I see only one in there. Use them all the time, not only for cooking but in my carbonated water and that evening tea.

Soup weather is approaching fast. Too fast.
Grab a pin to be ready for it!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

TWO YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

SIX YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FROM NATURALLY SWEET

Does the universe need another recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies?  

Let me think about that for a second….

The answer is obviously YES!

A few months ago I ordered the book Naturally Sweet from America’s Test Kitchen. “Bake all your classics with 30 to 50% less sugar.”  I do trust them to develop recipes that do not lack in taste. They definitely test all variables tirelessly, and I’ve never had a bad outcome. Yes, sometimes every single pot and pan in the kitchen gets dirty, but… if you don’t mind doing dishes – I definitely do not – it’s not that big a deal.   My first adventure with the book, a real American classic: chocolate chip cookies. And no, you won’t dirty a ton of dishes. Surprisingly enough, it is a one-bowl adventure.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE

Butter is creamed with sucanat, a type of sugar that I mentioned recently in my In My Kitchen post. As you open the bag, the smell is enough to make you dream. Think brown sugar with benefits. The texture is different from any other sugar I’ve played with. Coarse, a bit harsh-looking. It will not cream the same way white or brown sugar will, it offers a bit more resistance to the blade of the mixer. Do not worry about it, just keep beating for 3 minutes or so.

One egg and one egg yolk are added, then the other regular suspects, flour, leavening agents, vanilla, and finally Ghirardelli 60% cocoa in pieces, not too small, you need to go for those assertive pieces as you bite into these babies.

America’s Test Kitchen is quite reluctant to give permission to share recipes online, and I gave up on that waiting game.  If you don’t have the book, the recipe is available online here.  By the way, Sally’s site is a must-visit, and her cookbooks great too.

 

Comments: I really like these cookies. Phil defined them pretty well:

They have this texture that at first you think it’s crunchy, then you think it’s chewy,
and then you realize it’s in a perfect spot in between…

Got it?  Well, I think the cookies will please both camps, although I am partial to the Chewy Cheerleading Team. The sucanat gives a very nice sweetness, reminding me of some cookies that call for brown butter to be incorporated in the dough. That type of added complexity.  It makes about 16 cookies (I actually managed to get 17).  I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and make them smaller, they will have the perfect texture baked exactly as ATK suggests. Indeed, those guys test their formulas. Extensively. And we all profit from their work. I took them to the department and was considering grabbing one mid-morning, but found the empty platter staring at me. It was 9:48am. That is the sign of a good batch of cookies.

ONE YEAR AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

TWO YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SIX YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

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IN MY KITCHEN: OCTOBER 2017

Bogey Art, courtesy of our dear friend Denise, from UK

Time to invite my readers for another virtual tour of our kitchen, a tour that usually takes place every three months, so there’s a lot to talk about.  As I mentioned many times, credit should go to Celia who started the IMK series many years ago, and to Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings, who is hosting the event now. Stop by her site to say hello.

Starting with gifts…

From a former graduate student, Lorne

Straight from New Zealand, a honey infused with kiwi. Spectacular… Not sure how he was able to find it, but I’m sure glad he got a bottle for us

From a colleague in our department….

Bel Murabba, something I had never even heard about. You can learn more about it here. This one is a type of apple that is used exclusively in this type of preserve in India. It is stored in a heavy syrup, you simply rinse it well and enjoy a slice of the fruit. Apparently it is great for improving digestion.  It reminded me of a Brazilian delicacy called ‘goiabada” which is made from guava fruit.

From our friend Cindy…

A lemongrass plant she brought when she visited us a few months ago. Phil took good care of it, and it really exploded into a huge, healthy plant in our backyard, living in perfect harmony with our basil and a few Serrano pepper plants. I feel incredibly virtuous when a recipe calling for fresh lemongrass has me walking outside with a pair of scissors. Thank you, Cindy, for making it possible.

From one of our graduate students…

The best caviar I ever tasted. The best. You know how caviar can taste fishy sometimes? I don’t “do” fishy very well. Well, this one is the smoothest, most amazing, creamy, luscious, delicious caviar ever. Cannot thank him (and his parents who actually brought it) enough.

From Phil…

Four little vintage plates he found at an antique store in Norman, Oklahoma, during a visit last July. I love them!

Moving on to regular items…

In our kitchen…

Small vintage Pyrex dishes I bought at the same antique store. They have a full room devoted to those, I wanted to grab a lot more pieces, but storage is a problem, so I settled for these.  Adorable…

In our kitchen…

Sucanat, a sweetener derived from cane sugar with a bit of molasses taste to it, but not exactly like brown sugar. It is similar to jaggery and rapadura (the Brazilian homolog of piloncillo). America’s Test Kitchen great book “Naturally Sweet” uses sucanat in plenty of their recipes. A fun ingredient to play with.

In our kitchen…

Humongous caper berries. They are not very easy to find, so when I saw them for sale at Marshalls I pounced on the bottle like Buck on a snake.

In our kitchen…

Pineapple-infused vodka. We saw this concoction on a cookbook and Phil was intrigued. Basically you cut up a pineapple, add vodka to cover, keep in the fridge for 2 weeks. Drain the vodka, discard the pineapple pieces. The now pineapple-infused vodka can be used to make pineapple-tinis or any other drink your imagination comes up with.

In our kitchen…

Makoto Japanese Ginger Carrot dressing.  I don’t normally go for bottled salad dressing, but my friend Tracy recommended it. It is very tasty! Not too sweet, in fact in terms of carbs this dressing is quite moderate:   Excellent on cole-slaw, spinach salads, or squirted with abandon over turkey burgers.

In our kitchen…

That time of the year. Pumpkin time. How could I resist this bag of pasta? No need to answer that. I could not. I did not.

 

In our kitchen…

Another Marshalls gem. A huge bottle of fantastic roasted cashews. When I am hungry while making dinner, a few of those do a great job tidying me over until the meal is finally ready to be devoured.  Phil will often have a Wasa-cracker smeared with peanut butter and some of those cashews on top for lunch. Very delicious.

In our kitchen…

Fresh basil from our backyard, almost at the point of harvest before the first frost (these two simple words are like a couple of sharp swords stabbing my heart).

In our kitchen…

Star-shaped edible glitter… Because, macarons… (stay tuned)

In our kitchen…

Two new decorative items… a cute (perhaps slightly kitschy) elephant, and a small candle holder I found at a store in Silverthorne, Colorado last month. The elephant had high hopes for a warm welcome to our pack, but sadly, it was not exactly the case (read on).

In our kitchen…

A little bit of public service, in the form of a picture (taken in the lab, actually) to show you how much sugar is present in ONE can of Coca-Cola. Thirty-nine grams. Nobody, absolutely nobody needs this amount of sugar in one sitting. Or two..  Or three… A full 20-ounce bottle packs 65 grams. Shocking, isn’t it? Now, back to our regular programming.  😉

In our kitchen…

A mug that I ordered from gearbubble, with a favorite picture of Buck, my little Tim-Tam, my little munchkin…  Isn’t that adorable? It melts my heart every time I take a sip of my evening tea. And since I spoke of Buck….

 IT’S DOGGIE TIME!

For three months the pups patiently waited to say hello, but now, tails furiously wagging, here they are!

The morning routine changes very little in our home… Bogey’s food bowl is always full to the top, and not a molecule of nutrient is left behind when he is done, 2 and a half minutes later.

Oscar seems to find new objections to food items with every passing month…

 

But poor Oscar had some bad karma flowing his way…
He’d developed a small abscess on his neck that had to be drained.

Hi, friends… My name is Oscar For the Love of God Stop, and I am here all groggy from my torture at the vet. They said I will be ok, not sure I believe them.

Mom and Dad gave me lots of treats and petting… Maybe I should go back to the vet next week again?

Maybe Mom and Dad gave my brother a lot of attention, but Mom dressed to complement MY beautiful fur, not theirs! How about that for special attention?

Plus, Dad helps me stretch in the morning!  I don’t see him helping my two silly brothers.


Well, I can stretch on my own. What matters is, I am the one with the photo on the mug, and Mom told me she got this necklace made to match MY beautiful paws. So there!

I am just sexy. And I know it….

 

Seriously, Osky?  You must be kiddin’ me!

Mom brought a new friend home…  We are not quite sure what to make of him.
Something about his smell does not feel right to us. Any of us.

 

But into every life, a little rain must fall…

Yes, unfortunately we’ve had quite a few trips lately, and the pups had to endure some time in The Dark and Scary Place, as my friend Jill describes it. But they know that this is their forever home, and Mom and Dad never leave  for too long…

They all promised to be very well-behaved forever. Which, in dog time is a bit tricky to determine.
Should we trust them? 

Would we ever lie to our humans? What do you think?

 

Thank you, Sherry for hosting! I invite my readers to stop by Sherry’s Pickings to take virtual tours of many kitchens around the world!

ONE YEAR AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

TWO YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

THREE YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SIX YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

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I SAY TOM KHA GAI, YOU SAY TOM KHA KAI

As you may have noticed, I have a soft spot for all things language. Frustration took place as I tried to figure out the correct spelling for the name of this delicious Thai soup. It is often tricky to go from a language such as Siamese  to something that would convey the correct pronunciation in English. After a lot of searching around, I found a video that made me even more puzzled. In the video, they spell it as Tom Kha Kai, but when I listen to the girl my ears detect a clear sound of G for the third ideogram, making Tom Kha Gai my preferred way to spell it.  You can listen for yourself and decide. Click here and fast forward to 1 min and 50 seconds. No matter how you decide to spell it, this is a delicious and very simple soup with all the contrasting flavors that are typical for the cuisine of Thailand.

TOM KHA GAI
(adapted from Marta Stewart)

1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layers removed, bruised with back of a large knife
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 piece of ginger, about 1 inch long, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp dried galangal powder
salt and pepper to taste
zest and juice of 1 lime, separated
1/2 Serrano pepper, sliced thin
1 + 1/2 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into strips
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced thin
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 can (about 13 oz) full-fat coconut milk
fresh cilantro leaves

In a slow-cooker, combine chicken stock, lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, galangal,  lime zest, chicken and mushrooms. Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ hours (or on low for 4 hours). Add coconut milk and shredded carrots, and cook on high 30 minutes longer (or on low for 1 hour). Stir in lime juice and cilantro leaves.  Serve topped with additional fresh cilantro, if desired. You can also save the soup without the coconut milk and carrots, and add those when re-heating on top of the stove for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked.

Serve while pretty hot, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice right on the bowl to brighten up the flavors even more.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Fishing out the lemongrass…

Comments: What a delicious soup!  Oddly enough, I am not too fond of shiitake mushrooms in stir-fried preparations, even if they are quite popular in Oriental recipes. Something about their texture turns me off a little. But in soup or risotto, I love them. They do impart a lot more flavor than regular mushrooms do, and in this soup they are definitely a must.  Lemongrass is also a favorite flavor of mine, and we are lucky to have a very healthy lemongrass plant growing in our backyard. When I need it, I go out with a pair of scissors and cut a stalk very close to the ground.  The smell is just amazing…

I made this soup on a Sunday and as so often happens, it was my lunch three days in a row. I ran out of cilantro on day 2, but it was not a big deal. At all. Adding the coconut milk at the very end of the cooking time together with the carrots make sure that the carrots retain some of their bite, and the coconut flavor seems brighter than if it cooked for hours from the beginning. Little details matter, especially when using the crock pot. That dump and forget approach is definitely not the tastiest path…

No slow-cooker? A regular pan will work, just keep the soup at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through, then add the coconut milk and the carrots for a while longer.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Zakarian’s Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Breast

TWO YEARS AGO: Amazing Apricot Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

FOUR YEARS AGO: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carriage House Apple-Walnut Pie

SIX YEARS AGO: Chicken Marsala

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Home, sweet home

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions

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ELDERFLOWER MACARONS AND MUSINGS ON THE SUBJECT

My last macaron post was on August 15th, so the clock was ticking for another batch of these babies I am still obsessed with. Keep in mind I have two more batches ready to blog about. so if you are also a macaron-lover, stick around.  Once again, I used my default recipe from Craftsy although I’ve been playing with the formula from Philip (at Baking Fanatic) that has calls for less sugar. For this batch I used a lavender gel color, and something called Egyptian gold dust, which I talked about before. I also added a little bit of yellow color in the elderflower buttercream, to have a nice effect with the gold details. Very happy with this batch, which we enjoyed while my stepson Alex was visiting us from New York.

ELDERFLOWER MACARONS
(adapted from Craftsy.com)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
Purple Gel color from AmeriColor
2 drops vanilla extract

for the filling:
120 g softened butter
200 g confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon elderflower syrup
tiny amount of yellow gel food coloring

to decorate:
gold dust (optional)

Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal   in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes. If using edible gold powder,  sprinkle a little with a brush and use a hand-held fan to spread it over like dust.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 330 F (170 C/gas mark 3). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Make the filling:  Cream the butter with the powdered sugar in a KitchenAid type mixer until it reaches the correct consistency for piping. Add the elderflower syrup and beat for a few seconds longer to incorporate.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge.  Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had two goals with this recipe. First, to make a filling using elderflower flavor because the thought of it made me dream. Elderflower… even the name is musical! Second goal, to use a gold dust powder that I featured back in July in my In My Kitchen post. Small problem. I do not have an air-brush thingie, so decided to search for improvised ways to turn the powder into dust. A small, hand-held fan could potentially work, but we do not own one. Then I remembered the air-compressed can that we sometimes use to clean computer keyboards and small crevices in all sorts of gadgets and equipments. Here it is, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about.

I don’t know if you can read the name of my file by clicking on it, but it doesn’t matter. I will tell you right now. I called it not_the_right_tool. Yeap. Capisci?  It is way too strong, even if you try to  maneuver very delicately the little gun, it will spray air with too much enthusiasm. Which led to Sally having golden eyebrows two months before Halloween. Quite inappropriate. I don’t see an air-brush thingie in my future (pretty expensive little gadget), so I might search for a more well-behaved hand-held fan before I attempt using the powder dust again.  The effect is pretty nice, once you get it correctly. Live and learn. Even if my decorative effect did not have the exact look intended, the macarons were delicious.  The elderflower buttercream worked very well, and I imagine it would be perfect to ice cupcakes too. 

 


And now, I share a few thoughts on macarons, probably one of the most-feared concoctions by bakers everywhere. So many things can go wrong when you prepare the batter and then bake them. All recipes involve three basic ingredients, egg whites, almond flour, and sugar (usually in two different forms).  Basically egg whites are beaten to form a stable meringue that is next mixed with almond flour and, if desired, food coloring and flavoring agents. The method to form the meringue will range from French (egg whites are beaten with sugar at room temperature), Swiss (sugar is dissolved in egg whites gently warmed up and then whipped into meringue), to Italian (most stable meringue, formed by beating a simple syrup at the exact right temperature into egg whites).

The fact that macarons are so finicky would make one think that the proportions of ingredients are set in stone. Any variation, and you are doomed for failure. Well, that’s really not the case. In the table below, I offer you a few formulas, the first uses a Swiss meringue, all others are for the basic French method. You will immediately notice that the variation is not trivial. Particularly the amount of total sugar left me a bit surprised. Each of these recipes have many people who swear by them. They are often described as ‘my default recipe’ because “it never fails.”  I’ve tested two of them, Craftsy and Philip’s, and yes they both worked great. I like Philip’s formula because the shells are less sweet, and complement better some fillings like caramel and chocolate ganache.

All amounts given in grams.Original sources for above formulas, keep in mind my table normalized them all to 100 g egg whites:

Broma: Broma Bakery Craftsy: Craftsy online  tutorial Philip: Baking Fanatic Mimi: Indulge with Mimi Sue: You can do it… at home!  J.O.B. Joy of Baking Tiffany Macarons by Tiffany

The take-home lesson is: focus on technique. The ingredients are a lot more forgiving than we would think. As to aging the egg whites, trust me on this: you can bake a perfect batch of macarons with egg whites brought to room temperature without any need for aging.  I did the experiment myself, and others did too. I know many experts will swear it makes a difference. I would love to have them do a blind experiment baking a batch with aged whites another with room temperature eggs, no aging, and tell me which is which.  If you want to bake a batch of macarons on a whim, go for it. Technique trumps everything else for these finicky babies.  Watch videos showing proper macaronnage, and you will be on your way to success. And, of course use a scale so that you know how many grams of egg whites you are starting with, and adjust the proportions accordingly.

From my friend G.P.E. (Gary Patissier Extraordinaire) I got this nice lesson on macaron basics:

The important ratio in macarons is the sugar to egg ratio. At a 1:1 sugar/egg ratio, the meringue will bake up soft – think lemon meringue pie topping. At a 2:1 ratio, the meringue will bake up crisp – think meringue cookies. So for macarons, you are looking at a 2:1 ratio. Extra sugar ( > 2:1) will make the surface shinier and crisper and, of course, sweeter.  Note how there are two separate additions of sugar – one combined with the eggs and the other combined with the almond flour. That is intentional. Sugar stabilizes the meringue which is good. Stabilizing also means it inhibits formation of the foam. So to optimize stability versus volume, the maximum amount of sugar you want to add with the eggs is 1:1. Furthermore, you add the sugar late in the whipping process; I was taught to gently add the sugar when the egg whites are 75% done. Once you finish whipping the eggs, additional sugar (in this case, that mixed with the almond flour) can be added without affecting volume.

 

So there you have it, mine and Gary’s  little musings on a subject very dear to my heart: French Macarons… love making them, love thinking about making them, imagining colors and flavors together. Love bringing them to our department when maybe they make it easier to face that experiment that refuses to work, the upcoming exam, the preparation of that grant proposal…


or sharing with a very handsome (and very tall) stepson!

ONE YEAR AGO: A Duet of Sorbets

TWO YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

THREE YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

FOUR YEARS AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

SIX YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye

 

 

 

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